There Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues

July 8, 2020 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

(The title for this post comes from this song by Eddie Cochran, which was also covered by Blue Cheer and The Who, among others.)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka “SAD” (it doesn’t work out so perfectly on other languages, though) is generally thought of as the blues that hit people in winter, when it’s cold and dark and life slows down.

However, there is the opposite sort, called “Summer SAD” or “Reverse SAD”, and it’s the depression that occurs during the warm, bright summer. Up to 10% of the adult population in America suffer from it, and I’m one of them. I love the dark half of the year, and do my best to get through the bright half without bursting into flame.

People used to make fun of me, and not believe that summer was an especially difficult time for me. How could I be depressed? It’s summer! It’s time to have fun! Summer is the most difficult time of year for me—it’s hot, it’s bright, and the entire world is in my way when I try to go anywhere. The sun is eeevilllll, and it wants to kill me. Or, at least, that’s what it feels like.

Unlike the winter version, in which depression manifests as lethargy, excessive sleeping, and overeating, the summer version brings a perpetually agitated state, insomnia, and an aversion to food. (You’d think there would at least be the consolation of losing weight, but it doesn’t actually work that way. Your body goes into famine survival mode, so weight loss, if any, is minimal.)

Most of the research has been done on Winter SAD, since it affects more people, so there’s not a lot known to help, other than staying in the dark and cool as much as possible. Which I can do, as I work in an office with air conditioning and blackout blinds, but there are so many people who don’t have that luxury.

One source suggests taking a cool shower three or four times a day, but again, that’s not a reality for most people.

Some people find that a low-dose anti-anxiety medication helps. I tried that one year, and while it did reduce the effects, it also made me hopelessly stupid. I can’t afford to be hopelessly stupid, so that didn’t work out.

What does help:
1. Reminding myself that this is my brain chemistry running amok. It is not a character flaw or moral failing.
2. Staying hydrated. Water with wedges of lime or a few berries is a nice treat, and allows me to absorb a few more vitamins.
3. Taking naps. It’s actually easy for me to fall asleep during the day in summer—my body is trying to avoid all the light and heat. Again, that’s not a luxury everyone can manage, and I know I am fortunate.
4. Eating a balance of cold protein and fresh fruit. I completely lose my taste for vegetables in the summer, and stopped trying to force myself to eat them. Most days, I’m happy with some protein, some cheese, and lots of fruit. And really, how can you say no to the parade of amazing fruit that the summer brings? Blueberries, blackberries, peaches—all so wonderful! (If you like them, that is.)
5. Quiet Time is not optional. For me, this is time spent journaling, doing yoga, meditating, or simply sitting and watching the birds play in the yard. Time to just be, to breathe, to allow myself to just be a physical being. I usually allot 30 minutes for this, but during the summer, I try for 60 – 90 minutes per day. That sounds like a lot, but I’m also not dealing with kids, dependent parents, or other people who depend on me to help keep them in one piece. While my day job is demanding, I can usually manage to work around it during the week, and I set a firm boundary that I will not work on weekends.

Summer SAD isn’t fun to live with, so if you are living with someone who suffers from it, do your best to be kind. As with any form of dysfunctional brain chemistry, this isn’t something your spouse/partner/friend is doing on purpose—it’s their internal sytems running amok. Believe me, we’d all opt out if we could—it would be much nicer to enjoy the same summer that everyone around us does.

Poem: Requiem for Sylvia Plath—Luciana Frezza

July 7, 2020 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

Requiem for Sylvia Plath
Luciana Frezza

A requiem for you
each time I lean over
to detach a bit of spaghetti caught
on the green battlefield
of the kitchen stoneware, from the bright
shooting pain
to a sprig of parsley.

A requiem for you while I struggle
against the narrowness of the enclosure
of my forces, poor wooden staves,
enclosed in the other greater one
of being, on the threshold
of the damp shrubbery of sleep
where something cleanses us.

Is the way out there? In the darkness
for you, at least. Kneeling
I detach with my nail a tiny crust
while I say a requiem for you.

When People Tell You That Being a Heathen Is a Bad Idea . . .

 | Filed Under Devotions | No Comments

Show them this:

A white piece of fabric, embroidered with a red border. The center is stitched in black, with the words "A forgotten god cannot run my life any worse than I am currently running it myself". A deer-like creature in black thread is to the right of the words. A note at the bottom of the picture reads, "Embroidery and photo by Shitpost Sampler, https://shitpostsampler.tumblr.com"

 

[Image description: A white piece of fabric, embroidered with a red border. The center is stitched in black, with the words “A forgotten god cannot run my life any worse than I am currently running it myself”. A deer-like creature in black thread is to the right of the words. A note at the bottom of the picture reads, “Embroidery and photo by Shitpost Sampler, https://shitpostsampler.tumblr.com”.]

Embroidery done by, and photo courtesy of, the fabulous Shitpost Sampler on Tumblr.

Resilience: Artwork and Inspiration

July 6, 2020 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

The 23rd International Aids (Virtual) Conference commissioned an artwork series entitled “Profiles in Resilience“, which you can see on their website. This piece in particular stood out for me, both because of the image and the quote from Erika Castellanos, Director of Programmes at Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE):

“For me, resilience is not only being strong, but also to survive in your moments of weakness. I don’t always have to be strong. I also need to cry. I also need to feel frustrated. And I also need to feel anger. But resiliency in my is overcoming those moments. So I cry then I wipe my tears and go on. I get angry, I scream, take my frustration and go on. For me, that’s resilience.”

An illustration of a female figure moving from left to right, with various waves of blue and purple behind her.

Pushing Through, Pushing Forward
by Liam O’Donnell

[Image Description: An illustration of a female figure moving from left to right, with various waves of blue and purple behind her. The text in the photo is quoted before the image.]

“The passage by Erika Castellanos about allowing herself to feel a range of emotions fully and deeply during a difficult experience embodies power and courage. I wanted to capture the resilience needed to acknowledge those feelings, harness them, and move forward with that energy at your back.” – Liam O’Donnell.

Liam O’Donnell (@odoillustration) is an illustrator and designer from Oakland, now based in Brooklyn, New York. He works in entertainment advertising designing posters for Broadway shows and freelances as an editorial illustrator for clients like ESPN and BuzzFeed. Liam holds an MFA from the Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts.

With thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle for the original print article.

One Nice Thing: Lavender Labyrinth in Shelby, Michigan

 | Filed Under One Nice Thing | No Comments

Following up on the Santa Rosa lavender labyrinth which was last Tuesday’s Nice Thing, there’s also a lavender labyrinth in Shelby, Michigan.

An aerial photo of a labyrinth made of lavender bushes and other colorful plants.

[Image description: An aerial photo of a labyrinth made of lavender bushes and other colorful plants.]

From the website: “An arbor towers above the stone circle and surrounds an herb garden. Designed in accordance with the principles of sacred geometry, the 12-point vesica pattern defines 36 beds filled with dozens of herbal varieties.”

The center of the labyrinth is a lush herb garden, which provides fragrant breezes as you walk the labyrinth, as well as providing delightful goods available in the market.

The labyrinth is part of Cherry Hill Market, which offers fresh, local produce, available to take home or to enjoy on site in one of the dishes at the market cafe. Currently, the hours and services are limited due to the pandemic, but if you find yourself in that part of the world, do check their website to see if you can arrange a visit.

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